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Washington Watch: Important distinctions lost in refugee legislation

— To no one’s surprise, the Louisiana delegation overwhelmingly supported the bill passed by the U.S. House last week that tightens the squeeze on refugees from Syria and Iraq seeking entry to the United States. House Republicans voted 242-2 for the bill, and five of the six Louisiana members are Republicans. One of them… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Is Jindal an electable thing, or the real thing?

— Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal brought a degree of clarity to the confused and chaotic Republican presidential race in his appearance Tuesday in the fourth nationally televised debates of the campaign. Jindal marked a sharp distinction between his own, classically conservative economic position in favor of limiting government spending and the records of those… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: New scrutiny of role of Rubio, Jindal backers

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice last week, two campaign finance watchdog groups pressed for an investigation of a “dark money” organization and its role in the White House run of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The groups said it sure looks as if Conservative Solutions Project, a nonprofit set… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Scalise is staying put, at least for now

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.,

The long-delayed decision by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to seek election as the next speaker of the House pretty much extinguishes any flickering hopes by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, to move up the ladder of House leadership — at least for now. Those hopes were mostly dampened when… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: A battle for the souls of Iowa’s GOP caucus-goers

— Remember Pat Buchanan? Actually, Buchanan, 76, is still around, offering conservative commentary on Fox News. But back in the 1990s, Buchanan twice ran for the Republican nomination for president, after stints as a White House aide in two Republican administrations interwoven with a career as a journalist and political commentator. He didn’t… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal aims at Donald Trump to get attention, because nothing else he has done is really working

At the outset of his speech Thursday to the National Press Club, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that in his presentation, he would be putting aside his personal political mission and his campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination for president. He then proceeded to do nothing of the sort, launching into an extended… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal still floundering in White House race

— At first blush, the results of the Des Moines Register poll conducted late last month in Iowa must have seemed dispiriting to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in his quest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Despite campaigning heavily for the last couple of months in Iowa, which hosts the Feb. 1 caucuses that… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal has great one-liners, but no bump in the polls

— Gov. Bobby Jindal must be experiencing at least a little frustration these days. Just last week, he saw one of his rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, attract a lot of favorable attention for proposing an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law known as “Obamacare.”… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: If the polls don’t matter, votes certainly do

— For Gov. Bobby Jindal, Herman Cain may be something of a hero. Or maybe it’s Michele Bachmann. Or maybe they are anti-heroes for Jindal, and his hero is one of his rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum. Jindal’s hero could even be a Democrat, Barack Obama. What those current… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Obamacare remains target of Vitter’s ire

For U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the federal health care law is the gift that keeps on giving. Not that he likes the Affordable Care Act, which is more popularly known as “Obamacare” and ranks as the signature legislative achievement of Democratic President Barack Obama. Like virtually all Republicans in Congress, he hates… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Immigration hot topic in GOP circles

— Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks turned up the spotlight on immigration recently, but the issue has loomed large in the political scene for some time and likely will persist as Trump and a cast of thousands seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Trump suggested that rapists and other criminals were pouring across the Mexican… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Bobby Jindal gets media bounce from announcement

— When Gov. Bobby Jindal declared June 24 that he’s a candidate for president, it didn’t exactly come as a surprise. After all, he had acted like a candidate for months: traveling repeatedly to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — three states that decide early in the 2016 nominating process — to appear at… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal for states’ rights despite states’ wrongs

— South Carolina hosts an early presidential primary in 2016, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has visited the state repeatedly in his run-up to his official announcement Wednesday that he’s a candidate for the Republican nomination. No doubt, he’ll be back. But on Friday, another high-profile Republican elected official from Louisiana traveled to Charleston:… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal’s budget drawing national fire

— Gov. Bobby Jindal wasted little time in declaring victory after the Louisiana Legislature’s session this month, taking credit for approval of a state budget that was balanced without tax increases. But Jindal’s boast was greeted with heaps of scorn — from within the state and across the country. As an all-but-announced candidate for… Continue reading →

GOP eyes aftermath of ‘Obamacare’ fallout

Love it or hate it — and he hates it — the 2010 Affordable Care Act has changed the health insurance landscape, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., says. That’s a reality, Cassidy says, that Republicans must recognize as they grapple with a response to a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision that could… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Wherever you stand is where your beach is

To the proverbial visitor from Mars, it might seem reasonable to expect Louisiana’s elected officials to take a tough line on offshore oil drilling, to stand vigilant watch against threats to the state’s fragile coastline and to harbor deep skepticism or even hostility toward the offshore energy industry. After all, the explosion of… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: New Landrieu gig has many La. precedents

— The announcement last week that former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu has signed on to work for a D.C. lobbying firm generated a feeling of smug satisfaction in at least some element of the Louisiana electorate, of the “I told you so” variety. The news seemed to confirm the accusations made against her by… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal’s White House bid all but certain

— Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sharpened the focus this past week on a few areas that already seemed to be in his plans for the future, providing yet more clarity for what looks to be his 2016 presidential road map. But it’s not at all certain it will get him where he wants… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Vitter on top in state polls, under fire in Washington

Poor David Vitter. OK, maybe that is overstating things. After all, Vitter is a member of the U.S. Senate — sometimes called the world’s most exclusive club — and he’s the frontrunner to win election this fall as governor of Louisiana, which isn’t a bad job, either. But he’s been roughed up… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: U.S. Sens. David Vitter, Elizabeth Warren make an odd political couple in Congress

Louisiana Republican David Vitter ranks with the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate, but he’s generated a considerable amount of attention for his across-the-aisle work on a bill to update federal regulation of toxic chemicals. On Thursday, he and the legislation’s other leading sponsor, Democrat Tom Udall, of New Mexico, held a news… Continue reading →

Iowa conservatives have hope for Jindal run

The comments about Gov. Bobby Jindal that surfaced last week from some influential Iowa conservatives must have sounded like music to the ears of the cadre rooting for him to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The head of an Iowa Christian group predicted that Jindal could follow in the… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Boustany, Fleming diverge on trade issues

Charles Boustany and John Fleming are both doctors, both Republicans and both congressmen from Louisiana. In the grand scheme of things, they are not that far apart politically: Both are strongly conservative. But within the philosophical confines of the House Republican membership, there is some daylight between them. Boustany, first… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Vitter files flurry of legislation

Fresh from a two-week congressional recess, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., should have plenty of energy when he returns to work Monday to do what he does best: introduce bills in the Senate. In the 2015-16 Congress, Vitter is listed as the lead sponsor on 75 bills, way ahead of the No. 2… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Campaign Legal Center ‘very well may file a complaint against’ Bobby Jindal for rules violation related to presidential contenders, finances

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

— Maybe Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just got lucky with his timing. Or maybe he doesn’t think he’s breaking any federal laws on raising and spending money for a presidential campaign. Or maybe he’ll argue that everyone else is doing it, too. Or maybe he doesn’t much care, figuring that by the time any… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: In health care law debate, Vitter scores win

— It may be a small victory, but it was a victory nonetheless for U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., in his stubborn challenge to how the federal government treats Congress under the federal health care law. The Senate voted 52-46 Friday for Vitter’s proposal to place members of Congress — as well as the… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal floats a litmus test for immigrants

— Few politicians would be happy to read on an international news outlet that they “hemmed and hawed” in response to a question in a public forum. But such was the case with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, so described by The Guardian in an article on his speech Monday to a conservative group in… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Vitter crosses the aisle on chemicals bill

For a moment or two last week, it looked like U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., had hit a sweet spot between business interests and environmental movement. A conservative considered a friend of industry, he joined in the public rollout of a chemical regulation bill he cosponsored with U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.,… Continue reading →

Steve Scalise: Scalise’s position means voting the party line

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

— One year ago, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, ranked as a leader of the conservatives in the House. He was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus that included most House Republicans and that aimed to push the party’s agenda to the right. He won that job in 2013, the… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: PACs packed with plenty of loopholes

The successful prosecution of Tyler Harber may not quite equate to a shot across the bow of the ocean liner of campaign finance, but it could cause a flicker of reflection on the part of political operatives — and provide a ray of hope, however faint, to advocates of more vigorous enforcement of federal… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: If there’s one thing President Obama, Bobby Jindal have in common, it’s this...

— It’s been said that if you want to keep the peace at a friendly gathering with your in-laws (or anyone else for that matter), avoid discussions of politics or religion. So it would seem doubly wise for politicians to steer clear of public pronouncements on religion — even more so in light of… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Cassidy seems relaxed, confident since win

Vice President Joe Biden administers the Senate oath to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. Cassidy's wife Laura Layden is at center.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On a crisp, sunny morning last week, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., invited a few reporters to his office in the Senate Hart Office Building to talk about a bill he was introducing. The issue was called “temporary risk corridors,” a fairly arcane provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: For Bobby Jindal, what does the hyphen in Indian-American mean?

FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2012, file photo, Rep. Ami Bera is seen at his campaign office in Elk Grove, Calif., before winning his election that unseated incumbent Republican Dan Lungren. Bera, a first-term Democrat in a Sacramento-area seat, is a physician who favors expanding access to health care. Yet he has been voting with the Republican majority in the House to amend or overturn parts of the federal Affordable Care Act. Bera is one of a handful of Democrats in California who represent congressional districts that are closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, after voters approved an independent redistricting process. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Ami Bera is proud to be an Indian-American. “I do not shy away from my story,” Bera, a Democratic congressman from California whose parents immigrated from India, said recently. “There is no problem being an Indian-American. Because that is the tapestry of the United States. It’s generations of people coming together to weave… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Jindal’s public persona, history inspired strategy

If you didn’t know Gov. Bobby Jindal, you might think he was the sort of reactionary, know-nothing, anti-intellectual demagogue who gives knuckle-draggers a bad name. He’s scheduled to speak this month in Florida before a Catholic business organization whose anti-gay attitudes are so controversial that several other invitees have dropped out of the… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Southern politics don’t always travel well

Steve Scalise has said it plainly: He rejects bigotry of all kinds. But it seems equally clear he does not — or at least, did not — reject bigots of all kinds. That’s a big part of why Scalise, a conservative Republican who represents the overwhelmingly white, mostly suburban 1st Congressional… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Continuing resolution omnibus makes strange friends

— Politics, as the cliché has it, makes strange bedfellows. It’s been bit of a strange week in D.C., what with “cromnibus” — a word that, until a month ago, was probably never spoken by anyone in the history of the English language — on the lips of everyone in Congress. If not… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Path to repealing Obamacare unclear

When the next Congress takes office in January, with a new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate complementing an expanded Republican majority in the House, the Affordable Care Act figures to show up near the top of the agenda. The ACA is the signature legislative achievement of Democratic President Barack Obama; it’s… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Joy in the fight, bruise in the result

— Mary Landrieu’s Keystone pipeline gambit pretty much played out, as the headline writers put it, as a “hail Mary” pass — a desperate attempt, with the clock running out and the score against her, to change the outcome of the game. Its denouement as a “fail Mary” is probably less significant than the… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Voters offer mixed messages in election

There’s no shortage of indications of American voters’ exasperation with their elected officials. Approval ratings for Congress are abysmally low — far lower, even, than the dismal ratings for Democratic President Barack Obama, whom Republican congressional candidates across the country bashed in their successful effort in the Nov. 4 elections to win control of the Senate and expand… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: For Cassidy, Obama is the message

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That may be as good a reason as any for the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy to continue to harp on its near-obsessive theme: that the Democratic incumbent, Mary Landrieu, marches in lockstep with President Barack Obama. The “he/she’s with Obama” line was… Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Landrieu remark points to complicated legacy

Taken in isolation, Mary Landrieu’s remark about Southern attitudes toward African-Americans can hardly be disputed. “The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” she said in an interview Thursday with NBC News. Considering the region’s long and bloody history of slavery, lynchings, segregation and overtly racist politicians, that comment is a vast understatement.… Continue reading →